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Hiking trail

Ennerdale to Rosthwaite (Alternative Low Route)

· 2 reviews · Hiking trail · Copeland
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Macs Adventure Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • /
    Photo: Minna Harshbarger, Macs Adventure
  • / Footpath through the Valley
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Disused Slate Mining Tramway Footpath
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Contrasting landscapes along the C2C
    Photo: Iain Douglas, Macs Adventure
  • / Views over buttermere after Loft Beck
    Photo: Iain Douglas, Macs Adventure
  • / Disused Quarry Tramway to Honnister
    Photo: Iain Douglas, Macs Adventure
m 600 400 200 20 15 10 5 km Honnister Slate Mine Attached Cafe to Honister Slate Mine High/Low Path … Rosthwaite

This is the alternative low-level walk that opts to go an easier route up through the valley, skipping the tougher climbs of Red Pike, High Stile and Hay Stacks.

23.3 km
6:45 h
539 m
553 m

Known as Wainwright’s ‘low route’ which is 2.5km shorter and only 600 metres of ascent, the route takes you along the low-level path that skips walking to the summits of Red Pike, High Stile and the Hay Stacks, if you have nice weather and are feeling energetic we do recommend you take our high route as the views are simply breath-taking - but it should be stressed it is challenging - it is featureless in places, and requires a basic rock scrambling ability; if bad weather is forecast, either low visibility or heavy rain, we recommend taking this low route regardless.  A good website to check the forecast is the Mountain Weather Information Service:  

The low route takes around 2 hours less and might be preferable if you wish to conserve your energy for future days. 

Author’s recommendation

Drop into the Honister Slate Visitor Centre to enter a real mine. There is a small cafe here where you can grab some food and warm drinks. User
Macs Adventure
Updated: April 09, 2020

Highest point
602 m
Lowest point
91 m
Best time of year

Rest Stop

Attached Cafe to Honister Slate Mine
YHA Black Sail

Safety information

This safety information is for the low route only.

There are a few stretches where you must walk on the road as there is no pavement or verge. Walk on the right side facing the oncoming traffic unless there is a right-hand turn, in which case you should cross to the outside edge to allow drivers the maximum chance to see you.

There are lots of river crossings in today’s walk. There are always stepping stones available but these may be slippery




Sturdy hiking boots, warm clothes and a waterproof/wind-break layer are all required. The weather can change quickly so be sure to take all equipment even if the weather looks okay. Walking poles will be a big advantage on some of these ascents and descents.

Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike, it might be beneficial to bring a power bank.

This walk is isolated with few opportunities to buy food or water so be sure to bring enough with you.

Tips, hints and links

Points of Interest

Honister Slate Visitor’s Centre

Slate mining has been an important industry in this area, dating back to the 1700s, and indeed today you will pass much of the infrastructure including a walk along a disused tramway. To really understand the area and its history you can go into the Honister Slate Visitor’s Centre, which runs daily tours into the mines. If you have enough energy and a head for heights, you can even tackle a via Ferrata (climbing) route to explore the mines. There is also a café where you can get snacks or drink.

More information available here:


Food and Drink

It is 20 kilometres before you reach the Honister Slate Mine and the attached café which is the first opportunity to get food or drink. There is another café, The Flock In, in Rosthwaite where you finish the trail, and a few pubs/B&B’s which serve evening meals.

It might be beneficial to arrange a packed lunch in Ennerdale.


Ennerdale Bridge (105 m)
54.528948, -3.439556
30U 471553 6042464


Rosthwaite, Village Hall and Car Park

Turn-by-turn directions

*** This is our alternative low-level Ennerdale to Rosthwaite route - that is not as strenuous on the legs and is also navigationally a lot more straight forward.  In order to keep you on track we have provided you with a general overview below. Ensure that you follow the GPS tracks in the Macs Adventure smartphone app to ensure you have a safe, enjoyable and problem-free day.  The daily maps can also be printed from the web version of the app should you wish to take paper copies with you. ***


Leaving Ennerdale Bridge, walk on the road in the direction of the signposted "Ennerdale Water" (ensuring you walk on the right-hand side towards oncoming traffic). After around 0.8km you will come to a junction where you will see a sign for "Ennerdale Lake, 1 mile away." turn right and follow this road. Walk along the road sticking to the paved section as it bears left and then shortly after bears right. The road eventually comes to a bridge, continue over and follow straight on towards the lake which should be directly ahead, passing the car park on your left and passing through a gate onto a gravel path.

From here you are essentially following the path alongside the lake for around 5 kilometres - you will notice it starts to become slightly faded as you move away from the lake. At the end of this path, you will reach a gravel road between two fields - turn left here and follow it until you cross a low bridge over the river where you immediately turn right and follow along the tree-lined gravel road. At around the 9.20km mark, you have the option to take a left turn here and switch to the High route (ensuring you switch to the High route on the Macs App if you do).  If you decide to stick to the low route then carry on following the same path up the valley for around 5 kilometres until you reach Black Sail Youth Hostel (you can grab a drink/have a toilet stop here before you start the steepest section of today's walk).

After leaving the hostel you must ensure that you take correct path eastward - avoid the obvious path that bears off slightly to the right and take the path that goes on straight past the hostel and manoeuvres towards the steep climb up the side of Loft Beck (stream). Once you reach the top of Loft Beck there is a boggy saddle, turn right here and take the path marked by a cairn to a stile in fence. There is a section of ridge walking here as you head towards the highest point of today's walk at 602 metres.  If it's bad weather please ensure you pay close attention to the Macs App as you ascend so you don't lose your way! The trail begins to descend into a larger path now and you will eventually come down to what remains Drum House - take the path as bears right (joining back up with the high route path at this point) and continue descending till you reach the history-laden Honnister Slate Mine (again you can purchase a hot drink here and visit the WC should you need to).

After leaving Honnister, you will carry on heading down the valley on a path parallel to the B5289 road until it eventually reaches (and loops) around Seatoller. Eventually leading you onward to your overnight stop in Rosthwaite this evening.


*** This is the end of our Ennerdale to Rosthwaite (low) route, Please use your included documentation to find your overnight accommodation. ***



all notes on protected areas

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

Questions & answers

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Karen Cooper
July 07, 2019 · Community
I am just writing as a bit of an alert. This hike as planned was spectacular. The lake was amazing. My husband in reading the Coast to Coast book decided we needed to add the Red Pike climb. The book way downplays what this is. It is 2,500 foot straight up climb to admittedly amazing views. You the do a ridge walk over a bunch more mountains up and down some really treacherous slate scale. The final peak involves some pretty intense rock climbing and then straight up a goat trail to find the path again. The book says it adds no mileage and 1 1/2 hours. It added over 2 miles and probably a good 5-6 hours to our day. I’ve never been so exhausted. I’m a decent climber and biker but I found this insanely difficult and really unnecessary. Honestly it would have been an amazing day without it.
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Tina Smeed
September 13, 2018 · Community
Excellent day of hiking. Even saw a red squirrel. Sun was shining down on us and the gods were smiling!
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Tina at the top!
Photo: Tina Smeed, Community
Tina Smeed
September 11, 2018 · Community
Epic day of hiking - saw a red squirrel along the way. Sun was shining down on us - the hiking Gods were smiling today!
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Tina at the top
Photo: Tina Smeed, Community

Photos from others

23.3 km
539 m
553 m
In and out Scenic Healthy climate


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